BVLGARI HISTORY



Founded in Rome in 1884 by the talented Greek silversmith Sotirio Bulgari, the brand quickly established a reputation for Italian excellence with exquisite craftsmanship and magnificent jewellery creations. Over the decades, the Bulgari generations defined a distinctive style made of vibrant colour combinations, exquisitely balanced volumes and unmistakable motifs that pay homage to the Roman roots of the company. While always revering its cultural legacy, Bulgari introduced innovations that rewrote the rules of the jewellery universe and launched new trends that stood out as icons of contemporary design.

FROM SILVER TO GOLD

The exquisite silver ornaments forged by Sotirio Bulgari were greatly appreciated by English tourists coming to Rome for the traditional Grand Tour and made the business thrive. After the first store on Via Sistina, new shops were then opened on Via Condotti and in other tourist destinations. When Sotirio’s sons Giorgio and Costantino joined him in the business, they suggested that the family company could focus on high jewellery in order to grow, taking advantage of the fruitful legacy of silversmithing. The early high jewellery creations of the 1920s reflected the design of traditional French school, incorporating platinum and diamonds with geometric and stylized Art Déco design. From the 1940s onwards, the genuine Italian Bvlgari style started to emerge, embracing the sunny shades of yellow gold and the sinuous coils of the Serpenti creations.

Model Amanda Wellsh wearing a selection of Bvlgari creations from the 30s. Photo: © Gian Paolo Barbieri, 2016
Necklace / tiara combination in platinum with diamonds, 1935.
Model Amanda Wellsh wearing a selection of Bvlgari creations from the 30s. Photo: © Gian Paolo Barbieri, 2016
Convertible necklace in platinum with diamonds, 1938
Model wearing a selection of Bvlgari creations from the 40s and 50s. Photo: © Stefano Galuzzi, 2015.
Bracelet in gold, 1942

Model Amanda Wellsh wearing a selection of Bvlgari creations from the 30s. Photo: © Gian Paolo Barbieri, 2016

A typical convertible creation form the 1930s, the necklace may be worn also as tiara when secured to an appropriate mount. The use of large, round brilliant cut diamonds was a characteristic that made Bvlgari stand apart in the period. Paired with baguette-cut diamonds, they gave extra sparkle to the creation with a sumptuousness that will be fully explored in the decades to come.

Model Amanda Wellsh wearing a selection of Bvlgari creations from the 30s. Photo: © Gian Paolo Barbieri, 2016

A stunning example of convertible necklace from the 1930s, the necklace could be divided in smaller elements, which, when mounted on appropriate fittings, formed different jewels: the sides could be worn as two bracelets and as two dress clips while the central pendant could be mounted on a bangle.

Model wearing a selection of Bvlgari creations from the 40s and 50s. Photo: © Stefano Galuzzi, 2015.

The difficult economic conditions due to Second World War implied a very limited production of jewels with precious stones and more focus on design, adopting softer lines inspired by nature.

DARING COLOURS AND ECLECTIC FLAIR

By the mid-1950s,  Bvlgari took a step further by introducing daring chromatic combinations of precious stones and coloured stones. Recalling the cupolas of Roman landscapes, the cabochon became an hallmark of the brand to glorify the vivid colour of gems. With the flourishing Dolce Vita era, the store on Via Condotti became one of the favourite meeting places for movie stars and socialites, thus amplifying the international fame of the brand. Riding a wave of success, in the early 1970s the company expanded into Europe and the United States. The Bulgari brothers of the third generation  infused new creative boost with unrestrained inspirations, ranging from Far East to Pop Art, catering to the taste of modern and dynamic women. From their pioneering vision, the BVLGARI BVLGARI watch became an instant classic and an unprecedented design statement.

Model Amanda Wellsh wearing a selection of Bvlgari creations from the 60s. Photo: © Gian Paolo Barbieri, 2016
Necklace in gold with emerald, rubies and diamonds, 1969.
Necklace with amethysts, diamonds and green enamel, 1971
Sautoir in gold with coral and diamonds, 1971.
Sautoir in gold with yellow and blue sapphires, agate, citrines and diamonds, 1972.
Sautoir in gold with rhodonite, rubellites, sapphires and diamonds, 1972.

Model Amanda Wellsh wearing a selection of Bvlgari creations from the 60s. Photo: © Gian Paolo Barbieri, 2016

The detachable octagonal pendant can be worn as a brooch and is set with a 44,60 cts. cabochon emerald in a frame of rubies and brilliant-cut diamonds. The geometrical shape is an hallmark of the Bvlgari style, inspired by the monuments and decorative motifs of the Eternal City.

The sautoir is composed of twenty-four sections in the shape of stylized elephants, lined with the muzzle against the back, to form a decoratively ordered and symmetrical line. Along the sides of each figure two geometrical amethysts are set in bezels, while the upper parts are decorated with green enamels. At the sautoir is applied an elephant-shaped pendant that can be worn separately as a brooch. The jewel reflects the mood for exoticism and dreams of escapism of the 1970s, with Indian suggestions massively influencing fashion and design.

The sautoir is designed as a chain of gold and coral links supporting a central coral disk decorated with gold flame-like motifs randomly encrusted with brilliant-cut diamonds. The emphasis on round shapes is an hallmark of the Bvlgari style distilled over the decades.

The sautoir is designed as a gold chain of filed curb linking decorated at intervals with oval elements alternatively set with cabochon sapphires and citrines, the pendant mounts a cushion-shaped yellow sapphire, four cabochon sapphires on borders of blue agate. The motif of elliptical concentric shapes was in tune with the experimentations of Optical art of the 1970s and with Bvlgari's research on round, harmonious shapes.

Designed as a stylized four-petal flower, the necklace has a detachable pendant that can be worn as a brooch. Sautoirs with an elongated chjain and sumptuous pendants perfectly resonated with the "maxi" fashion of the 1970s characterized by colorful pyjama trousers and exotic caftans.

MODULAR JEWELS AND UNCONVENTIONAL MATERIALS

In the 1980s and 1990s, Bvlgari continued to innovate and launched distinctive, versatile jewels designed to be worn from morning until night. Modular jewellery was the answer for any woman’s need: a single element with a strong design was the starting point to be replicated and combined with a wide range of precious stones, from hematite to coral to diamond pave. Unconventional materials were incorporated to jewels and watches with unbridled creativity, reaching new pinnacles of sophistication: steel, porcelain, silk and wood pushed the boundaries of luxury, giving life to creations that were as pleasant to be seen as to be touched, like a second skin.

Model wearing a selection of Bvlgari creations from the 90s. Photo: © Stefano Galuzzi, 2015.
 Chandra necklace in gold with porcelain, rubellites and peridots, 1994
Chandra rings in gold with porcelain and amethyst/citrine, 90s.
Model wearing a selection of Bvlgari creations from the 70s and the 80s. Photo: © Stefano Galuzzi, 2015.
Melone evening bag in gold with sapphires and diamonds, 1976
Necklace in gold with sapphires, rubies, diamonds and silk cord, 1980

Model wearing a selection of Bvlgari creations from the 90s. Photo: © Stefano Galuzzi, 2015.

With the Chandra collection Bvlgari took the experimentations with materials a step further, enhanced by the luminous smoothness opf porcelain. It incorporated the typical round shapes favored by the Brand and a very pleasant effect to the touch. Moreover, the porcelain beads produces a nice sound that made these creations even more fun, trasgressive and playful.

The bombé-shaped white porcelain ring is decorated with stylized petal motifs and set at the centre with a cabochon amethyst or citrine.

Model wearing a selection of Bvlgari creations from the 70s and the 80s. Photo: © Stefano Galuzzi, 2015.

The round shape of the bag was in keeping with the signature round volumes of the Bulgari jewellery along with the smooth contours and the cabochon-cut stones. A peculiar part of the bag was that it was hinged to open into two halves and was fitted with a mirror, a comb and lidded compartments. The bags were suspended on silk cords finished with tassels, which were available in a variety of colours and could even be changed to suit the occasion.

In the 1980s Bvlgari was the first jeweller to combine silk cords with precious stones. The silk cord could be changed to match the outfit, thus introducing a very modern prêt-à-porter concept in high jewellery . This was but one of Bvlgari's experimentations with materials to achieve a jewel that could be worn all day, in formal and informal occasions.

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